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“A View of the Obelisk”

On Monday, 19 May 1766, all of Boston was gearing up to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act at last. The issue of the Boston Gazette published that day appears in the Harbottle Dorr collection at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Show More Summary


This morning I sat in front of the rear of the Robert Gould Shaw and Fifty-Fourth Regiment Memorial before heading into the Boston Athenaeum for a day of writing. It is certainly not the first time I have read the inscription on the rear of the memorial, which most people miss when they visit. This […]

“Unaffected Gaiety” on the Repeal of the Stamp Act

News that Parliament had repealed the Stamp Act arrived in Boston on 16 May 1766, as described yesterday. That quickly set off a public celebration.The town’s newspaper printers collaborated on a broadside announcing the news from London...Show More Summary

Not So Far Removed from the Lost Cause

Much of my writing about the Civil War 150th is framed around a sharp contrast with how Americans commemorated the war in the early 1960s, during the Centennial. There can be no doubt that we have witnessed significant shifts in how Americans remember and commemorate the war. The most significant shift has got to be […]

Hancock and the Harrison

In 1763 the London merchant Jonathan Barnard took on Gilbert Harrison (d. 1790, his monument in the church at Newton Purcell shown here) as a full partner and successor.One of Barnard and Harrison’s major customers in Boston was Thomas...Show More Summary

“When we shall receive certain advice of the Repeal of the Stamp Act”

Like the Stamp Act itself, Parliament’s repeal of the Stamp Act was no surprise. The measure was debated in London for months, and colonists in North America eagerly awaited the results.On 1 Apr 1766, Boston’s official records say, “A...Show More Summary

One Final Confederate Memorial Day Celebration

The debate over Confederate iconography in public spaces may still be very much alive, but Confederate heritage is dead. The other day I suggested that Confederate heritage organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy ought to confine their activities to specific times and places. Not everyone agreed with the […]

Celebrating Ten Years of Blogging at Boston 1775

You can’t escape the history and heritage of the American Revolution in and around Boston and if you read and write about it you can’t escape John L. Bell’s fabulous blog, Boston 1775. Today is the 10th anniversary of John’s blog and it’s a big deal for a number of reasons. First and foremost, the […]

Huckleberries, mountain fires, and meaning

Perhaps it’s the mountain fires we’ve had in the Shenandoah Valley recently, but I’ve found myself thinking about something more commonly associated with summer… that incredible wild fruit known as the humble huckleberry. What do mountain fires have to do with huckleberries? Well, ultimately fires help huckleberry crops, of course. Yet, these raging mountain fires […]

Ten Years of Boston 1775

This is the tenth anniversary of the day I launched Boston 1775. I dated a couple of introductory postings earlier than 14 May 2006 so they’d be easy to find, but that first posting was about an article I’d recently published in New England Ancestors. Show More Summary

A Shrinking Confederate Universe

A quick thought. Tomorrow the local UDC and SCV chapters in Charleston, South Carolina will commemorate Confederate Memorial Day in Magnolia Cemetery. It’s a beautiful place that both evokes the scale of death that Confederates experienced and the lengths to which white Southerners went to honor their sacrifice during the postwar years. As the debate […]

The “young Newenglander” and the Stamp Act

On 21 Nov 1765, the Halifax Gazette ran an item suggesting that the people of Nova Scotia opposed the Stamp Act, which had taken effect that month. According to Isaiah Thomas’s History of Printing in America (1810):This paragraph gave...Show More Summary

Long-lost slave cemetery discovered and preserved in rural Virginia

They sang all six verses of “Amazing Grace,” the hundred or so neighbors and visitors who had gathered under gray skies to honor 24 men and women and one child who had died before the end of the Civil War. In life they had all been slaves whose final resting place was a patch of […]

Isaiah Thomas’s Second Job

In mid-1765 Isaiah Thomas was sixteen years old and apprenticed to the Boston printer Zechariah Fowle. But he was nowhere near Boston. Having worked for Fowle since he was seven, the teenager had gotten fed up and run away.In Thomas’s...Show More Summary

“Marriage Is Taxing” and More at Old South, 19 May

Blood on the Snow isn’t the only historical theater debuting in Boston this month.On Thursday, 19 May, the Old South Meeting House will host a performance of “Marriage Is Taxing” by Martha Lufkin. This one-woman comedy is “based on the...Show More Summary

H.K. Edgerton Protested by Ku Klux Klan

H.K. Edgerton is currently walking across the state of Florida in support of Confederate heritage and the battle flag. Yesterday, while paying his respects at the Hemming Park Confederate Monument in Jacksonville, H.K. was approached by a couple members of a local KKK chapter, who took issue with his embrace of the Confederate flag. Fortunately, […]

Special “representation” at the Carlisle Blue-Gray Reunion of 1881

Yesterday, an article (“South Dakota tribe seeks children’s century-old remains from War College site“) popped up in my news feed which, ironically, followed some information I came across just last week regarding “Indian School” attendees at the Blue-Gray reunion at Carlisle, in September 1881. That reunion was actually the second in two months, the first […]

Blood on the Snow at the Old State House

As of last night, there are seats available for only three of the upcoming performances of Blood on the Snow, a historical play produced by the Bostonian Society in the Old State House. Written by Patrick Gabridge, the drama depicts the aftermath of the Boston Massacre on the morning of 6 Mar 1770. Show More Summary

Bartlett’s Harper’s Ferry art… in the style of the Hudson River School?

Among the earliest (and perhaps my favorite) pieces portraying Harper’s Ferry is by William Henry Bartlett, looking toward the Shenandoah River from Jefferson’s Rock. I’ve mentioned the piece once before in a post from 2012, and having used...Show More Summary

Scipio Moorhead’s “natural genius for painting”

Back in this post I mused on the mysteries of Scipio Moorhead, subject of Eric Slauter’s article “Looking for Scipio Moorhead” in Slave Portraiture in the Atlantic World. I wrote:Slauter also notes that the only evidence we have forShow More Summary

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